SAN DIEGO — The nighttime collision of a Coast Guard aircraft on a rescue mission and a Marine helicopter left nine people feared dead at sea Friday as investigators tried to solve the mystery of how the aircrews failed to see each other in a heavily used military training area.
Military aircraft and ships searched the ocean off Southern California for any sign of the victims while investigators gathered recordings of air traffic controllers and pilot communications. The search focused on a debris field 50 miles off the San Diego coast.
The crash involved a Coast Guard C-130 with a seven-member crew and a Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra with two aboard as it flew in formation near the Navy's San Clemente Island, a site with training ranges for amphibious, air, surface and undersea warfare. It was not known whether the pilots were aware of each other before the 7:10 p.m. Thursday collision.